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Greek parliament passes austerity measures for new loan

Greece's parliament has approved reforms in order to receive its next round of bailout funds. During the vote, two lawmakers were expelled for opposing the bill, leaving PM Tsipras with a narrow majority in parliament.

The parliament in Greece passed a bill on Thursday to pave the way for its next installment of loans.

Foreign lenders required Greece to pass the austerity measures before delivering 2 billion euros ($2.15 billion) for a bailout and 10 billion euros to recapitalize the country's banks.

In a roll call vote, 153 members of the left-right coalition voted in favor of the bill and 137 legislators voted against it. Ten lawmakers were absent, according to the parliament's bureau.

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Greeks sick of austerity measures

The austerity package requires that debtors who default on their loans also lose their homes, with protections existing for only around 25 percent of those who are socially disadvantaged. In addition, the bill introduced special taxes on gambling and Greek wine - at 15 cents per liter.

"I'd like to see how you'll sleep at night when the first homeowner loses his house," conservative opposition leader Evangelos Meimarakis said to the lawmakers. "Mr. Tsipras promised to protect primary homes. It was a lie to get people to vote for him."

Dissenters kicked out

Although the vote is viewed as a win for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, his party faced some losses on Thursday. During the vote, two lawmakers belonging to his coalition were expelled for dissenting. Nikos Nikolopoulos, of the right-wing Independent Greeks party, voted against the bill, and Syriza's Stathis Panagoulis abstained.

The MP ejections have now left Tsipras' coalition with 153 seats in the 300-member parliament - a mere three-seat majority.

Even before the vote, Tsipras was dealt another blow when former government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis surrendered his seat in parliament in protest of the austerity measures.

Nikos Nikolopoulos MP with Independent Greeks talks to the Greek Parliament

Nikos Nikolopoulos was expelled for voting against the reform bill

"We have a record amount for nonperforming loans, around 40 percent, while in the rest of Europe the average is about 5-7 percent. We have to reduce that number," Sakellaridis told parliament.

With a precarious parliamentary majority and faltering party support, Tsipras now faces the task of overhauling the country's pension system.

The entire bailout package is set to amount to 86 billion euros. Thirteen billion euros was already distributed to Greece in August.

rs/mkg (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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